Can new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer- and working women- have it all?


Yahoo announced yesterday that Google Inc.’s Marissa Mayer will become Yahoo Inc’s new chief executive.

Mayer is the most prominent female tech CEO— and her selection alone is noteworthy— but she also announced yesterday that she is due to give birth in October.

“It’s a great story even if we hadn’t found out that she was pregnant,” said Financial Times’ Gillian Tett said in a Morning Joe discussion Wednesday.

“There’s so many messages for hiring a woman in a top spot in tech world, one of the last [all-male] frontiers,” added host Mika Brzezinski. “I love the concept of her moving through life the way she has. Many women go through life wondering about their choices.”

Tett gave kudos to Mayer for taking the job, and to Yahoo’s board for giving it to her. The board may have been reassured by Mayer’s  description of how she plans to handle the time off: “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it,” Mayer has said.

Some parents are wondering if Mayer understands how realistic it might be to work a few weeks after delivering a child. And it wasn’t that long ago that people discussed Anne Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic piece on why women “still can’t have it all.”

For business reporter Eve Tahmincioglu, Mayer’s approach may get other pregnant women at Yahoo wondering about the time they put in after childbirth. (Although Tahmincioglu also notes that not all women are as lucky as Mayer to even have a maternity leave benefit: The United States is one of the only industrialized nations without mandated maternity leave.)

Tett points out that Mayer’s brave choices began when she went into IT early in her career, when young women weren’t likely to join the field. “Many women today are making these same kind of decisions. Doing that [going into a new field] when you’re young can pay off dividends.”

Whether or not Yahoo can be turned around is another story. “As talent and as skilled as she is, Yahoo might be a lost cause,” offered New York Magazine’s John Heilemann.

Can new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer- and working women- have it all?